Cologne-Leuven Summer School of Phenomenology 2017: A Summary

Andrew Krema

The 10th annual Cologne-Leuven Summer School of Phenomenology – the world’s only summer school devoted solely to Husserlian phenomenology – convened from July 31 – August 4, 2017 at the University of Cologne. This year’s theme was “Phenomenology and its Methods,” and the session topics included intentional analysis, description, constitutional analysis, eidetic methodology, reductive methods, genetic analysis of human consciousness, the relation between experimental and phenomenological methods, and method in phenomenology and the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften).

The daily program consisted of two lectures in the morning and an afternoon session of either a discussion on a foundational text on Husserlian methodology or graduate student project presentations. The lecturers and text discussion leaders were professors and doctoral students from Romania, Germany, Poland, Italy, and Mexico.

Christian Ferencz-Flatz (Bucharest/Cologne), “Das Experiment bei Husserl”

In the first lecture of the Summer School on Husserl’s notion of “experiment,” Christian Ferencz-Flatz delves into Husserl’s understanding of the relationship between phenomenology and experiments. Husserl’s Ideen III is one of the few texts that touches upon experiments without fully rejecting their validity for phenomenological analyses. Ferencz-Flatz highlights four relevant points from this text. First, the difference between an inductive method of experiment and eidetic variation is that the single cases that are considered in eidetic variation are connected to reality but they can also be created by phantasy. It is the imagined cases of some type that push the logical limits of the object being varied allowing us to gain knowledge of its essence. Second, experience plays a larger role in grounding the eidetic analyses of certain kinds of experiencing. One example is memory: a better starting point would be in this case an actual memory and not a fantasy of a memory. Third, Husserl suggests experiments could supplement challenging investigations in which first-person experience or imagined first-person experience is not accessible (e.g. experiencing anger). Fourth, Ferencz-Flatz suggests that Husserl’s concept of experiment is not the same as normal scientific experiments requiring an intersubjective consensus because that is not important for phenomenology; rather, what is important is that any and every subject comes to the same eidetic insights.

Although it is unclear as to whether or to what extent Husserl supports empirical experiments, perhaps he is keener on thought experiments in these passages of Ideen III. One early interpretation of Husserl by Siegfried Kracauer understood Husserl’s eidetic variation to be a kind of thought experiment and even contemporary phenomenologists use thought experiments in their work. In Husserl, we see cases like the early form of what would be later called the primordial reduction in the fifth Cartesian Meditation or the annihilation of the world (Weltvernichtung) scenario in Ideen I as closely resembling thought experiments. Nonetheless, there are two important differences between these examples from Husserl and traditional thought experiments. First, Husserl’s scenarios are set within the context of phenomenological variation; in other words, Husserl cannot just freely think of any conceivable scenario, rather he is bound by eidetic variation to the realm of possibility i.e. concrete experiences like a dream or delusion. The second difference is that Husserl is bent on proving the possibility of these scenarios. It is thus clear that the main difference between Husserlian variations and thought experiments is the fact that the variations are bound to the experiential realm.

Phenomenology finds itself in a strange paradox in which it depends upon empiricism, and at the same time is eidetically independent of experience. This latter position has made it difficult to dialogue with other sciences and areas of philosophy. Ferencz-Flatz believes that relating phenomenology to and weakening its stark differences with other sciences and areas of philosophy is justified and appropriate.

Dieter Lohmar (Cologne), “Intentionality and Description in Phenomenology”

Dieter Lohmar’s first talk on Monday focused on the central topic of intentionality in phenomenology. His starting point was Husserl’s distinction between the reell and intentional content of consciousness, which is to be seen in perception. In the example of perceiving a red billiard ball, we perceive it to be smooth, colored, and round. The ball however does not appear as a homogenously single-toned red ball, rather this red ball reflects light and our perceiving ignores this reflecting as part of the ball itself. Thus, we want to examine our own constitutive activity in perception, and this examination requires a “reduction” in which the subject takes a step back from the “ready-made” world to examine how it is we come to constitute or interpret an object – in other words, how we give it sense. The interpretation of sense objects is called “apperception” and should be understood as a synthesis and not as a causal affair. The synthetic character of apperception is apparent in the example of perceiving a car driving past me: I hear the roaring engine come and then see it coming towards me quickly as it seems to increase in size as it approaches while I at the same time also have a toothache. The object guides this activity: we discriminate parts of sensibility and this choice is guided by the idea of the object. In this example, I discriminate the toothache from the car experience. Time consciousness is also an essential structure in apperception as I anticipate a fast car coming from behind me upon hearing the sound. Previous knowledge also plays a role in my apperceiving an object: when I perceive a lemon, I not only see its shape and color, but I also image its smell and bitter taste. These are examples of Husserl’s goal to manifest the fundamental “rules” that govern perception. In order to bring these “rules” of cognition to light, all presuppositions must be suspended, even presuppositions of the existence of objects. In phenomenology, we start with what is given, sense perception, not an object existing in the world. We then let it constitute itself.

Apperceptions can modify themselves based on their givenness. For example, this ‘A’ (that is written on the chalk board) could be apperceived as a letter, as a drawing of a tent, or as a chalk mark. Depending on many factors, this symbol could be apperceived as one of these, but then it could be modified when one realizes the letter is actually a sketch of a tent. These examples do not suggest a causal theory of perception because the change in apperception is due to sensibilities and an order of relevance based on i.e. the context. Phenomenology is concerned with how an object is given and interpreted. Lohmar concluded his talk on intentionality by stressing the mistake of presuming the world “in itself” and the world as it appears. Husserl instructs us to analyze our own knowledge and how the world appears to us.

Jagna Brudzinska (Cologne/Warsaw), “Intentionalgenetische Analyse”

Jagna Brudzinska’s talk on Tuesday built upon Lohmar’s Monday lecture by going further in depth into the analysis of intentionality from the genetic perspective. She began by highlighting time as the key factor that differentiates static from genetic approaches. In static phenomenology, we descriptively analyze single conscious acts of interpreting an intuitively given object; however, the temporality (Zeitlichkeit) is left out. A temporally dynamic analysis of consciousness would allow for us to reveal the structure of motivation in pre-predicative experience, which is historically determined while it also determines experience. By thematizing the whole stream of consciousness as a single contiguity of time, we have access to the temporal succession of experiences and can view the associations of one to another. Prior experience “sediments” itself as self-knowledge in consciousness, which plays an essential role in interpreting the present and future. A genetic analysis allows us to analyze processes of becoming, dynamics of individuation, horizonedness (Horizonthaftigkeit) and teleological motivation processes of development. Thus, a whole new dimension can be considered in passive genesis. Brudzinska’s ultimate claim in the lecture is that genetic phenomenology is not supplemental but essential for establishing the absolute foundation of knowledge.


D. Lohmar, “Searching for Evidence”

In this talk on the topic of evidence, Lohmar began with Hume’s concept of belief as the conviction of the existence of a given state of affairs that was felt by the mind. Hume’s concept of belief inspired Husserl’s understanding of evidence in terms of a performance of the mind in which we presence the intelligible object. The kind of evidence that can be gained is dependent upon the mode of givenness of the object. For example, there is a notable difference between signitive, pictorial, and intuitive intentionality with respect to their mode of evidence. A signitive intention (a sign in a system of signs) cannot deliver any adequate evidence. A picture represents a characteristic of the object but is not sufficient in acquiring evidence of the pictorialized object. Eventually, direct perception serves as evidence, though there is an optimality in viewing that object, e.g. if I walk too close when viewing a house, I can only see a small portion of the whole. Adequate evidence of external things is therefore impossible to obtain, but it constantly leads our perceptual dynamics as a regulative idea.

Lohmar then moves to distinguish different kinds of evidence. The first distinction is between adequate and inadequate evidence. Adequate evidence is the self-givenness of all aspects of the object. No three dimensional object can give itself adequately because every thing always has a back side that is absent from the view. Husserl struggles to say that in the reflective attitude, objects of “inner perception” can give themselves fully. Another kind of evidence is apodictic evidence (i.e. impossibility to think the opposite). In Logical Investigations, Husserl claims that logical principles would belong to this kind of evidence, but in Formal and Transcendental Logic, he revokes this claim and says that it is more complicated. There are thus three aspects to be considered by a phenomenology of evidence: (1) the kind of object you intend (of cognition, imagination, real, etc.); (2) the style of gaining evidence belonging to these kinds of objects; (3) the degree to which you are able to achieve evidence for this special object.


 D. Lohmar, “Categorial Intuition”

On Wednesday, Dieter Lohmar continued his discussion of evidence by discussing its relation to categorial intuition. Categorial intuition is for Husserl a developed form of cognition. When I begin to shift my intention from one object to another, I begin to cognize identities and general typicalities. For instance, I cognize the fruity smell belonging to lemons, and if I expect to encounter a certain acquaintance with a certain set of characteristics and the man who taps me on the shoulder does not fit my expectations, I naturally act surprised and confused because the type is not fulfilled. A further fundamental aspect of categorial intuition that appears in the late Husserlian genetic analyses of judgment in Experience and Judgment (1939) is the so-called “explication.” This process alludes to the fact that I first perceive the object as a whole and then concentrate on a certain aspect without losing the intentional reference to the object as such. The many aspects or sides are related to the object by means of what Husserl calls a synthesis of coincidence. This form of association of the contents of experience is made by the subject, but the result of the synthesis is absolutely dependent upon reality: the object shows itself and its inner characters and the subject passively follows its lead. The moments of the objects that the subject may focus on vary based on interests or contextual factors. Language is not necessary for cognition understood as categorial intuition; this is demonstrated by animals, which, according to Lohmar, show a form of immediate and non-discursive kind of cognition very similar to ours.


D. Lohmar, “Eidetic Method”

Lohmar concluded Wednesday with a lecture on Husserl’s method to discuss essences. For Husserl, the intuition of essences belongs to how we experience the world and our consciousness thereof. The result of seeing essences is however a priori. In seeing variance, we gain a priori knowledge, i.e. when we vary all possibilities of a kind – not just our own sensible experiences of this given thing, but also our phantasies of it that stretch the realm of possibilities to its limit – we are able to gain a priori knowledge about this object. Not all essences of objects, however, can be intuited by this method. Cultural objects, for example, cannot be successfully varied by this method because one culture could have a rather different understanding of some object than another. God or virtue could be included in examples in which different cultures have notions that are totally different and could not be varied. Eidetic variation instead grasps for eidetic structures of experience. How is it that we carry out this method so that the result is valid for all cases? Eidetic intuition is not a kind of induction in which we think of 100,000 cases and then come to a general rule. The principle of eidetic variation rests on the synthesis of coincidence: it is seeing what remains the same among all the differences. The type plays an important role by guiding the variations: through types, we can regulate our variations of trees to things that fit the type, “tree,” and the type will guide and eliminate things not befitting to it. Types are limited to our own experience and can be adjusted to our own empirical knowledge. Thus, through this type-led variation, we have an experience of the “a priori” – a rather misleading Husserlian term for which he means non-empirical necessity.


Marco Cavallaro (Cologne), “Method in Phenomenology and the Human Sciences”

Thursday’s first presentation was given by Marco Cavallaro on phenomenology’s connection to the human sciences. The background of this topic, as Cavallaro explained, is a discussion on the nature of descriptive psychology between Wilhelm Dilthey and Husserl. It was Dilthey who claimed that in order to understand the systems of culture, a thorough study of the human soul is required. He proposed a descriptive psychology – as opposed to an explanatory psychology that uses natural scientific methods to explain psychical facts – whose goal is to understand the presentation of components and continua found uniformly throughout all developed modes of human psychic life in which these components form a unique nexus that is neither added nor deduced, but concretely lived. This descriptive psychology is, according to Husserl, a kind of empirical science. Instead, Husserl wanted to develop a “pure” psychology in which the psychical is separated from the physical allowing the psychical a priori to be disclosed. In order to carry out this science, the ego must undergo a twofold reduction (transcendental and eidetic) in which we go back to the eidetic structures of subjective (and intersubjective) experiencing. Pure psychology serves three functions: the foundation of empirical psychology, the foundation of the human sciences, and as a propaedeutic to transcendental phenomenology. Both phenomenology and the human sciences overlap in their subject matter (i.e. understanding the other, foreign cultural objects, social habits, and classificatory types). Their methods also conflate insofar as they both seek universal structures that are valid for every person regardless of culture. Cavallaro concluded by praising and presenting the theses of Phillippe Descola’s Beyond Nature and Culture (2005), which offers a foundational approach to anthropology akin to the Husserlian one.


Lohmar, “Reductive Methods”

“A phenomenologist must not accept transcendental phenomenology, but you miss something in life if you don’t do it once,” Prof. Lohmar said at the beginning of his final lecture of the week. Husserl’s transcendental turn was made known in 1913 upon the publishing of his Ideen I, which was considered a return to Kantian philosophy. Transcendental phenomenology thematizes the thetic characteristic of the given object. In so doing, we try to see the real form of evidence that lets us take up reality. Yet to investigate how it is that we claim something to be real, we cannot start with the claim that the thing is indeed real. Thus, a reduction is necessary in which both the thetic quality – whether something is given as truly there, or doubtful or probable – and the matter of the object, which tells us what we are seeing, have to be bracketed or ignored. Instead of the real, we focus just on the phenomenological content. The reduction hinders the subject from prejudging and allows for one to see how steps are taken towards completing a certain act.

In Husserl’s work, there are many other reductions, one of which is the primordial reduction. The setting of this reduction is, “How does it come to be that I have the tendency to interpret a body appearing as a human subject?” This reduction differs from the transcendental because it does not bracket everything, only that which is necessary to eliminate the presuppositions in how we perceive others. On our way to the “primordial island,” cultural sense is totally lost, yet language and emotions are difficult to eliminate. There is much debate as to whether or to what extend this reduction is successful. Nonetheless, Professor Lohmar instructed the participants that even if “it may turn out to be impossible… it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try!”

Alice Pugliese (Palermo), “Analysis of Motivation in Genetic Phenomenology”

Alice Pugliese began her presentation on the last day of the Summer School with a question based on observations that were suggested throughout the week; namely, could motivation provide a ground for the idealistic and transcendental philosophy of subjective life, even if motivation is considered by many other sciences to be to be an empirical and experience-related element? The intentional and constitutive flow of consciousness is a motivated process. This means that motivation has “lawfulness” i.e. it shows regularities, similarities and uniformities, it always holds a direction, and it is strongly influenced by past experience. One common misconception is that motivation is always causal, yet only apodictic motivation is causal. Motivation often appears in the form of association: for example, A reminds me of B. New experiences will modify and transform past experiences by adjusting or rewriting our experiential history. This account of motivation suggests a low-level teleology: an object’s value is immediately given in our experience of that thing e.g. I apperceive the ice cream immediately as “tasty.” Motivation is an interplay between passivity and activity: it is not just from our being affected that moves us to practical action, but practical action also leads us to be affected. Pugliese concluded by listing Husserl’s three levels of motivation: (1) thematic motivation that guides thinking or imagination; (2) passive motivation that implicitly guides kinesthesia; (3) Drives (Triebe) that are the deepest and also a non-thematic form of motivation providing orientation.


Thiemo Breyer (Cologne), “Phenomenological Psychology”

The final lecture of Summer School 2017 was given by Thiemo Breyer on Husserl’s phenomenological psychology. In the first part, he gave a historical overview of Husserl’s relation to psychology. From early on, Husserl was in contact with the leading psychologists and was concerned with psychology’s connection to mathematics and philosophy. Husserl began his philosophical career using descriptive psychological terms and methods but gradually shifted towards more logical terms and methods. In his phenomenological psychology, Husserl wants to establish a new a priori psychology, which was not meant to replace empirical psychology, but to serve as the basis for other sciences such as the humanities (Geisteswissenschaften). This new psychology is an eidetic science that makes analytic distinctions between different elements of consciousness, which is an artificial procedure existing in abstraction. In phenomenological psychology, we take many single concrete experiences and abstract a general experience of what it means to have e.g. a perception, or a fantasy etc. Husserl compares the science to geometry because they both abstract from concrete things (for psychology, experiences and for geometry, imperfect everyday circles and squares) to the ideal. The difference between this science and geometry is that phenomenological psychology can be falsified by encountering something contradictory in the life world or a fantasy of some type of experience, whereas in geometry, factual occurrence does not falsify the ideal nature of some figure.

Phenomenological psychology is the science of the ego and everything that makes up the personal “I”. Husserl sets up three “spheres” of psychic experiences: cognition/theoretical reason (Verstand); emotion and axiological reason (Gemüt); and volition or practical reason (Wille). Each category is comprised of different faculties or factors: under cognition is perception, memory, fantasy, and judgment; under emotion is affect, feeling, mood, Stimmung, atmosphere, and evaluation; and under the will are drives (Triebe), conative, motivations, deliberations, action. The order of the categories (i.e. cognition, then emotion and then will) shows the direction of the “foundational relationship.” Breyer concluded the talk by noting phenomenology’s accomplishments and impact on the various fields related to psychology such as psychopathology, Gestalt psychology, and embodied cognitive science.

The only way to conclude this summary is to share Dieter Lohmar’s parting words to the participants: “Stay true to Husserl!”

Reviewed by: R. Andrew Krema (Cologne)

For more information on the Husserl Archive at the University of Cologne, go to:

Kwok-Ying Lau: Phenomenology and Intercultural Understanding: Toward a New Cultural Flesh

Phenomenology and Intercultural Understanding: Toward a New Cultural Flesh Book Cover Phenomenology and Intercultural Understanding: Toward a New Cultural Flesh
Contributions To Phenomenology, Volume 87
Kwok-Ying Lau
Springer International Publishing
Hardcover 106,99 €
XI, 256

Reviewed by: Daniel Regnier (St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan)

Phenomenology and Intercultural Understanding: Toward a New Cultural Flesh unites texts based on studies which Kwok-Ying Lau presented at conferences between 1996 and 2016.  Despite the fact that the volume is a collection of essays, it does read as a unified work particularly since the author took care to emphasize the studies treating what is indeed the most original contribution in this work, the notion of cultural flesh. He deals with the notion of cultural flesh both at the very beginning of the work and the end, that is, in Chapters, 1, 10 and 11.  In the intervening chapters the reader is lead through a variety of discussions of possibilities for intercultural understanding in light the work of mostly European phenomenological thinkers. Although his approach cannot really be characterized as post-colonial since he does not draw on post-colonial theory in any explicit manner, Kwok-Ying Lau reads and re-reads mostly 20th century thinkers – Hegel, Husserl, Lévi-Strauss, Merleau-Ponty, Patočka (and in a kind of appendix in the last chapter Lévinas, Deleuze, Michel Henry) – from an extra-European perspective in a critical and constructive manner with a view to understanding how their approaches might serve in intercultural understanding.

Merleau-Ponty represents Kwok-Ying Lau’s primary source of inspiration and in contrast to many other European thinkers addressed here, is revealed to have real intercultural sensitivities. Kwok-Ying Lau devotes two chapters to Jan Patočka whose significance for the Chinese community he underlines (Chapters 5 and 6).  In Chapter 5 Patočka is examined as a ‘Non-European Phenomenological Philosopher’ and the ‘Critical Consciousness of the Phenomenological Movement’.   Chapter six works with Patočka’s interpretation of the Platonic notion of care for the soul and compares it to Mencius theory of the ‘four roots.’  These chapters read very well and show how Patočka models certain possibilities for non-eurocentric (even post-european) approaches to Phenomenological research with applications to intercultural understanding.

Several chapters deal with some classical Chinese philosophy.  As already mentioned Kwok-Ying Lau refers to Mencius’ theory of the four beginnings in Chapter 6 (p. 99).  He comes back to this text in Chapter 8 (p. 134) while Chapter 3 is entitled ‘To What Extent Can Phenomenology Do Justice to Chinese Philosophy? A Phenomenological reading of Laozi.”  Kwok-Ying Lau also devotes a chapter to Buddhism and the manner in which it was viewed by Hegel and by Husserl.  Kwok-Ying Lau shows how, in spite of having enunciated a very Eurocentric conception of Philosophy, Husserl in fact demonstrated an appreciation of the philosophical (and even phenomenological) depth of early Buddhist writings, particularly in so far as they represent a philosophy of consciousness not without relation to Husserl’s.  Overall, although he does have some good insights into East-Asian thinkers, Kwok-Ying Lau seems more interested and familiar with the European authors he works on than the Chinese and Indian texts which he discusses in these chapters.

Chapter 8 ‘Self-Transformation and the Ethical Telos: Orientative Philosophy in Lao Sze-Kwang, Foucault and Husserl’ is devoted to demonstrating how Lao Sze-Kwang’s characterization of the nature of much East-Asian philosophical thought as ‘Orientative’ rather than a ‘purely cognitive and theoretical enterprise’ (p. 125).  Here Kwok-Ying Lau shows how certain developments in Foucault’s later thought inspired by Pierre Hadot’s work on Ancient philosophy as Spiritual Exercise go in the direction of Lao Sze-Kwang’s Orientative Philosophy.  Kwok-Ying Lau seem to suggest that the future of Phenomenological research will go in this direction which is more amenable to intercultural understanding.

In both Chapters 2 and 7 Kwok-Ying Lau sketches out what he takes to be the premises for doing intercultural philosophy.  His approach involves what he calls a double epoché of language.  He explains as follows:

The person in question must perform a double epoché  with regard to language used. First of all she must abandon her native language, at least temporarily, and speak an international language which in most cases is English … she must perform a second epoché  with respect to the philosophical language through which her thought is expressed (p. 23).

I have to admit that I am not entirely comfortable with Kwok-Ying Lau’s approach here.  Nor am I convinced by the argument unfolded in Chapter 7 which asserts that intercultural philosophy can only take place in a ‘Disenchanted World’.  In both, Chapters 2 and 7, in fact, Kwok-Ying Lau seems to embrace what many might take to be Eurocentric positions on universality, language and rationality, positions which are very controversial and have received much discussion by feminist and post-colonial thinkers. (It is particularly unfortunate that Kwok-Ying Lau takes a Palestinian suicide bomber as an example of someone who ‘lives under the domination’ of what he calls an ‘un-disenchanted world-view’ (p. 108), not only because of the rough handling of very sensitive political issues, but also since he more or less baldly asserts that anyone who believes in certain kinds of transcendence – including, it would seem, almost any practitioner of an Abrahamic religion – is disqualified from participation in intercultural thought!).

This reader was also somewhat disappointed by the absence of reference to other thinkers who work on intercultural philosophy.  One might mention the work of the likes Hall and Ames or the kind of scholarship which is published in the Journal Philosophy East and West.  The work of Francois Jullien is dismissed rather uncharitably in a footnote to page 213, while not single work of his is cited in the Bibliography.

In any case, with the notion of ‘cultural flesh’ Kwok-Ying Lau has forged a useful conceptual means to facilitate intercultural understanding, and even, I might add, intercultural philosophizing. (I would have liked to see the notion of cultural flesh elaborated in greater detail, since it is genuinely a novel concept but is only sketched out in this book. Perhaps this might be something Kwok-Ying Lau could deal with in a future monograph.)  More generally, Kwok-Ying Lau has made a valuable contribution to phenomenological research and intercultural philosophy with all of the studies which constitute this volume in so far as they re-evaluate Phenomenological thought from an extra-European perspective. This book will be of interest to those who seek to better understand what kind of resources Phenomenology can contribute to intercultural philosophy.

Denis Seron: Apparaître: Essai de philosophie phénoménologique, Brill, 2017

Apparaître: Essai de philosophie phénoménologique Book Cover Apparaître: Essai de philosophie phénoménologique
Studies in Contemporary Phenomenology, 16
Denis Seron
Hardcover €204,00
xii, 213

Roberto Walton, Shigeru Taguchi, Roberto Rubio (Eds.): Perception, Affectivity, and Volition in Husserl’s Phenomenology, Springer, 2017

Perception, Affectivity, and Volition in Husserl’s Phenomenology Book Cover Perception, Affectivity, and Volition in Husserl’s Phenomenology
Phaenomenologica, Vol. 222
Roberto Walton, Shigeru Taguchi, Roberto Rubio (Eds.)
Springer International Publishing
Hardback 96,29 €
XIII, 201

Andrés Osswald: La fundamentación pasiva de la experiencia

La fundamentación pasiva de la experiencia: un estudio sobre la fenomenología de Edmund Husserl Book Cover La fundamentación pasiva de la experiencia: un estudio sobre la fenomenología de Edmund Husserl
Filosofía UC
Andrés Miguel Osswald
Plaza y Valdés

Reviewed by: Alan Patricio Savignano (UBA-CONICET-CEF/ANCBA)

La Fundamentación pasiva de la experiencia es el primer libro del Dr. Andrés Miguel Osswald, fruto de su tesis doctoral acerca de la fenomenología genética de Edmund Husserl, dirigida por uno de los mayores especialistas del campo en Argentina, el Dr. Roberto Walton. La obra consiste en un profundo y extenso análisis exegético sobre la teoría fenomenológica husserliana de los estratos pasivos de la vida consciente, realizado a partir de un arduo trabajo con manuscritos póstumos de Husserl editados durante el último tercio del siglo pasado y los primeros años del actual. Estos textos abarcan desde los cursos de invierno sobre el tiempo en Gotinga en 1904-5, los Bernauer Manuskripte (1917-1918), los Analysen zur passiven Synthesis y los C-Manuskripte (1929-1934). En constante debate con la crítica especializada, Osswald ofrece aquí varias lecturas originales sobre los escritos estudiados, de las cuales se destacan su comprensión de la automanifestación o autoafección de la conciencia, su propuesta de distintos sentidos del concepto de inconsciente en Husserl, su interpretación sobre el surgimiento de la trascendencia y el vínculo intencional a partir de las síntesis pasivas dentro de la inmanencia, y su tratamiento de las capas pasivas originarias del yo trascendental –i.e. el proto-yo y el pre-yo.

En el primer capítulo, “El concepto de pasividad”, el autor, por un lado, nos adelanta una definición general del concepto central de su libro, la pasividad, y, por otro, señala el vínculo de esta noción con el comienzo del método genético en la fenomenología de Husserl. Ante la falta de una definición explícita por parte del filósofo alemán, Osswald propone llamar pasivas a todas “las operaciones de la conciencia que no emanan de un yo atento” (54). Al igual que Bruce Bégout, el autor sostiene que la primera versión de la teoría de la conciencia inmanente del tiempo y la descripción de los distintos horizontes del noema representan los primeros antecedentes en la filosofía de Husserl de reflexiones sobre operaciones pasivas. Sin embargo, es en la bibliografía póstuma, en especial en Analysen zur passiven Synthesis, publicados en el volumen XI de Husserliana, donde esta noción es mayormente tematizada. Allí la pasividad es descrita como la capacidad de formar un campo sensible pre-dado –i.e. anterior al acto egológico de aprehensión de un objeto en sentido propio– cargado con un relieve de significación plausible de despertar el interés del yo (52). Esta descripción corresponde a aquello que Osswald denomina “pasividad primaria”, operaciones que aportan condiciones de posibilidad para los actos yoicos. La pasividad primaria se distingue de la “pasividad secundaria”, la cual comprende operaciones que tienen en los actos del yo su condición de posibilidad, como, por ejemplo, los hábitos sedimentados expuestos en las Meditaciones cartesianas. En La fundamentación pasiva, Osswald se dedica casi exclusivamente a la pasividad primaria.

Por otro lado, el autor defiende en este primer capítulo que los análisis de una dimensión pasiva de la conciencia requirieron la ampliación del método fenomenológico hacia una perspectiva genética. En efecto, la pasividad se revela al momento de dilucidar una historia trascendental de la conciencia, que muestre cómo esta “se determina a sí misma en virtud de su propia experiencia” (39). La perspectiva genética, por lo tanto, atestigua que los contenidos de las vivencias y el sujeto concreto –i.e. la mónada– son el resultado de procesos pasivos regido por leyes genéticas apodícticas. En los manuscritos B III 10 de 1921, Osswald identifica un momento bisagra en el paso de la fenomenología estética a la genética. Allí Husserl revisa la teoría kantiana de la “síntesis de la imaginación productiva” de la primera edición de la Crítica de la razón pura. El interés por la facultad imaginativa demuestra, según el intérprete, una relativización y gradualización en las consideraciones de Husserl concernientes a la distinción entre una dimensión pasiva de la conciencia, el contenido hylético de la aprehensión (la sensibilidad, en Kant), y una dimensión activa, la aprehensión del acto (el entendimiento).

El segundo capítulo, “El tiempo”, consiste principalmente en un esfuerzo del autor por construir una lectura exegética de las distintas versiones de la teoría de la temporalidad de la conciencia de Husserl y su evolución a lo largo de los años. Para ello, Osswald recorre los tres textos fundamentales en que Husserl expone sus ideas al respecto: primero, las lecciones del semestre de invierno de 1904-1905, editadas junto a textos complementarios en Husserliana X (1969) –publicadas previamente por Heidegger a partir del trabajo de edición de Edith Stein, bajo el nombre de Lecciones de fenomenología de la conciencia interna del tiempo–; segundo, los manuscritos redactados en el valle de Bernau entre 1917 y 1918, publicados en Husserliana XXXIII; y por último, los textos conocidos por los especialistas como “manuscritos del Grupo C”, confeccionados en el período que va de 1929 a 1934, editados en el volumen VIII de Husserliana Materialien. La trama del capítulo se desarrolla alrededor de la hipótesis propuesta por Osswald de que la conjugación de la teoría del tiempo y los análisis de la síntesis pasiva dan respuesta a problemas centrales de la temporalidad señalados por la crítica. En la sección 2.3.2., intitulada “Tres interpretaciones”, Osswald pasa revista y discute las lecturas del tiempo en Husserl de tres especialistas del área: John Brough, Dan Zahavi y Rudolf Bernet (77-95). Con respecto a Brough y Zahavi, el autor desarrolla la polémica que tuvieron a propósito de los tres niveles de temporalidad de la conciencia formulados por Husserl por primera vez en las Lecciones y mantenido desde entonces. La disputa versa sobre si los actos son primariamente objetos inmanentes o no y si la automanifestación de la conciencia se debe a una autopercatación prerreflexiva de los actos mismos o más bien a un nivel independiente más profundo, el de la conciencia absoluta (77-89). Ante estas lecturas antagónicas, Osswald propone una solución alternativa basada en el reconocimiento de un nivel intermedio entre el tiempo inmanente de las vivencias y el de la conciencia absoluta (86). Esta dimensión corresponde a las unidades pre-objetivas de datos de sensación y de sentimientos sensibles que se componen pasivamente en el campo del presente viviente para un proto-yo [Ur-Ich]. Los conceptos tardíos del presente viviente y del proto-yo son el resultado de una profundización de una epojé que se restringe al momento impresional, a un presente que no pasa y que representa el lugar de donación de lo nuevo ajeno a mí y de donación de mí mismo. Según una terminología inaugurada por Zahavi, se distinguen aquí una heteromanifestación y una automanifestación.

El capítulo 3 de “La asociación” comienza la exposición de las síntesis pasivas de la reproducción y de la anticipación en el decurso temporal y la proto-asociación [Ur-Assoziation] en el presente viviente. En primer lugar, el autor vuelve a insistir aquí en que los estudios de la asociación pasiva son, tal como escribe Husserl, “una continuación superior de la teoría de la constitución original del tiempo” (112). En consecuencia, también dan respuesta a cuáles son las “condiciones esenciales básicas de la subjetividad misma” (129). Esta continuación se opera, según Osswald, gracias al cambio de una visión llana de la conciencia temporal, producto de un análisis formalista y estático del proceso de modificación retencional del período de 1904-5, por una concepción genética, que revela toda una geografía de relieves de contenidos sensoriales de la conciencia, constituidos pasivamente a lo largo de la historia del sujeto. Los contenidos sensoriales son ahora descriptos ya no como meros datos neutros dentro del esquema de aprehensión y contenido de aprehensión, sino como unidades temporales que se asocian al presente en virtud de relaciones de semejanza. Asimismo, la hyle, sostiene Osswald, es poco a poco desplazada por Husserl del lado noético de los actos hacia el lado noématico, convirtiéndose así en un concepto límite y relativo según las exigencias del análisis. Las asociaciones reproductivas e inductivas tienen la capacidad de motivar pasivamente actos como la rememoración y la espera –es decir, anteceden y predeterminan al yo activo hacia estos. Osswald advierte que, para Husserl, la anticipación está fundada en la reproducción, visto que anticipar presupone apercibir una constancia de los hechos pasados respecto de los hechos futuros. Ahora bien, aquello que realiza la síntesis más originaria, la de reproducción, es una evocación [Weckung] retroirradiante de contenidos sensibles retenidos del pasado hacia los contenidos intuidos en el presente impresional. Ciertas unidades retenidas de sensaciones se destacan de un fondo indiferenciado de pasado a causa de sus relaciones de semejanza [Ähnlichkeit] con el contenido hylético presente. De manera que la evocación consiste en el despertar pasivo de un contenido del pasado debido a su semejanza con lo intuido en la impresión; tal contenido posee, por ende, la capacidad de reflejar la irradiación de vivacidad de la impresión –fenómeno que Husserl denomina el destacarse [Abhebung]– y afectar al yo para captar su atención.

La interpretación continúa con la exposición de la proto-asociación del presente viviente, un concepto límite en el orden de fundamentación de los estudios genéticos en fenomenología. La proto-asociación es la responsable de constituir las unidades hyléticas en el presente, que luego serán retenidas y podrán ser evocadas por la reproducción. El autor repasa las leyes que actúan de modo complementario en la protoasociación: ley de semejanza [Ähnlichkeit], ley de contraste [Kontrast] o desemejanza [Nichtähnlichkeit] y ley de contigüidad [Kontiguität]. La primera sintetiza en base a la homogeneidad del contenido; las dos restantes, en base a la heterogeneidad del mismo. Estas síntesis primero asocian el contenido sensorial en unidades afectantes, las cuales luego se agrupan pasivamente en campos sensibles. Los campos sensibles superiores son los que distinguen entre sensaciones táctiles, auditivas, visuales, etc. Lo que Osswald encuentra más admirable en la labor de Husserl de describir el funcionamiento de la proto-asociación es la construcción de una teoría holística de los campos sensibles y las unidades hyléticas destacantes que evita el atomismo propio del asociacionismo empirista. En otras palabras, los campos no preexisten a la constitución pasiva de las unidades pre-objetuales de afección y éstas no existen fuera de los vínculos de semejanza y contraste que poseen entre sí.

El capítulo acerca de la asociación cierra con una interpretación sobre el concepto husserliano de inconsciente (146-153). Antes que nada, la noción del inconsciente aparece en el momento de distinguir entre grados de la afección. La afección se define como “la capacidad de la pasividad de inducir sobre la actividad [del yo]” (157). Los datos sensibles se destacan en el campo y ejercen en el yo una atracción [Zug], la cual, dependiendo su intensidad afectiva, puede hacer que él se vuelva a ellos y los tematice. Hay un espectro de grados de afección según su poder para despertar al ego. Husserl, explica Osswald, distingue dentro del mismo fenómeno de la afección entre unidades que afectan al yo, unidades que no lo afectan pero tienen una tendencia a hacerlo y unidades que no lo afectan en absoluto. La ausencia de toda afección es denominada “inconsciente” por Husserl. Sin embargo, Osswald afirma que el inconsciente no es un concepto unívoco en la fenomenología husserliana. En su opinión, pueden hallarse tres sentidos distintos para este concepto límite de afección nula o inconsciente. En primer lugar, se puede hablar de un inconsciente horizontal para referirse a los elementos co-implicados en la experiencia actual, es decir, el horizonte de intenciones vacías. En segundo lugar, es pertinente distinguir un inconsciente vertical, que refiere al fondo retencional de no-intuitividad de los contenidos pasados más distanciados al momento impresional. Por último, Osswald propone utilizar el concepto de inconsciente pre-afectivo para indicar el contenido sensorial antes de ser destacado para un yo. La última parte del capítulo está dedicada a los problemas que se inauguran con la reflexión sobre el inconsciente en fenomenología, de los cuales, para Osswald, el más apremiante es la percatación de que el concepto de la afección es circular, pues el destacarse de las unidades sensibles requiere de su capacidad de afección y lo mismo sucede en sentido contrario.

El capítulo 4, “La afección”, arriba a los confines del análisis de la conciencia pasiva por medio del desmontaje [Abbau] de los dos polos de la afección, la hyle y el yo, y la vinculación entre ambos. La labor de desmontaje se realiza en dos momentos distintivos gracias a la bilateralidad de toda vivencia. Osswald rescata que Husserl, en el período de los manuscritos C, reconoce que toda vivencia, incluso aquella que realiza operaciones pasivas no intencionales, es “bilateral [zweiseitig]”: posee un lado yoico y un “lado sin yo” [ichlos] o “extraño al yo” [ichfremd] (165). El “lado sin yo” refiere a la hyle vivenciada, la cual es analizada por Husserl en tres estratos: la proto-hyle [Urhyle], la hyle de sensación [Empfindungshyle] y la hyle natural [naturale Hyle]. El lado del yo, a su vez, es desarmado en estructuras más primigenias del proto-sentir, la proto-afección y el proto-querer, las cuales están guiadas por lo que Husserl considera un proto-instinto [Urinstinkt] –tendencia a la diferenciación, plenificación y objetivización de las unidades hyleticas. En estos niveles elementales, el yo es simple y anónimo, es decir, autoconsciente de él mismo de forma irreflexiva, sin conocerse a partir de un acto reflexivo, simple sujeto de las afecciones y de las acciones. El último rincón de los fundamentos de la subjetividad a la que llega la luz de la reflexión fenomenológica atestigua, para Husserl, un estrato de indiferencia entre el yo y el no-yo, donde ninguna distancia o duplicidad entre ambos polos puede darse, y, por lo tanto, no se cumplen las condiciones del vínculo intencional.

Una vez dada la descripción de los últimos niveles de fundamentación de la subjetividad, Osswald se ocupa de una de las mayores problemáticas de la fenomenología, a saber, cómo entender la relación entre la conciencia y lo extraño a ella, llamado por algunos generalmente “mundo” o “naturaleza”, aunque estos términos son utilizados con un sentido distinto por Husserl. El problema es ineludible, dado que su respuesta, como señala Montavont, podría hacer caer a la filosofía de Husserl en un idealismo, al confundir la hetero-manifestación y la auto-manifestación. Osswald nos ofrece aquí su interpretación: desde su punto de vista, la fenomenología es el análisis de “un proceso, estructurado según niveles, de progresiva ‘exteriorización’ de la inmanencia” (168), un proceso que es la historia misma de una subjetividad. “El vínculo intencional”, agrega, “se establece, en primer lugar, en el interior del curso inmanente como diálogo entre la afección y la acción” (173), siendo los análisis del vínculo primigenio de indiferencia entre la proto-hyle y el proto-yo el punto cero de arranque. La respuesta tiene una raigambre levinasiana que el autor con gusto reconoce. La proto-hyle puede ser leída desde la noción de “elemento” de Levinas, esto es, un hecho bruto, contingente, inaprehensible de manera total, que atestigua una exterioridad dentro del propio curso inmanente de la conciencia misma.

En el capítulo de “Sujeto y pasividad”, el autor se encarga de defender la compatibilidad en la fenomenología de Husserl entre la vía cartesiana y los análisis genéticos de las síntesis pasivas. A partir de una lectura inspirada en Michel Henry, Osswald afirma que la apodicticidad del cogito en los últimos escritos de Husserl debe comprenderse, no como la adecuación total del objeto de una reflexión interna, postura de Husserl durante los años de Investigaciones lógicas, sino como la indubitabilidad de la automanifestación pasiva de la conciencia en el presente viviente. Es decir, la apodicticidad del cogito consiste en la autoafección del yo en el curso temporal (206). Luego, el autor reconstruye la visión de Husserl acerca de los sujetos infantiles y los sujetos animales. Para ello, expone previamente la función de la empatía para comprender la vida consciente de sujetos no adultos o sujetos no humanos. En el niño, el uso de la empatía tiene como fin recuperar la etapa de la infancia primera inaccesible a la rememoración o a la reflexión del fenomenólogo. En el animal, la empatía busca la comprensión de “otros lejanos” que participan de un eidos diferente al de la humanidad. El autor se detiene sobre todo en la formulación husserliana de las estructuras yoicas en el niño y el animal. Principalmente repara en la noción tardía de pre-yo [Vor-Ich], distinto al proto-yo [Ur-Ich] de la vida pasiva del sujeto adulto humano. El pre-yo es “el centro ciego de irradiación de los actos instintivos, vinculado a la corriente temporal proto-pasiva y que se muestra en un horizonte de pasado lejano” (229). En definitiva, es el yo de los instintos, sobre el cual se montan y desarrollan las capas del proto-yo de las asociaciones y del yo de los actos.

El capítulo 6, “La paradoja de la pasividad”, es el último del libro y hace de conclusión. En este, el autor comparte unas reflexiones finales acerca del impacto de los resultados del estudio de la pasividad en el campo de la ética. Desde un punto de vista fenomenológico-generativo, la racionalidad en el ser humano adulto es el punto de llegada de la teleología monádica. Esta se relaciona con la posibilidad de tomar distancia de las motivaciones pasivas y la capacidad de llevar a cabo la reflexión. Osswald encuentra una clara continuidad en Husserl con la moral kantiana en este respecto. Sin embargo, advierte que la pasividad de ningún modo puede identificarse con el mal o, inversamente, la actividad con el bien. Tampoco hay que entender la motivación pasiva al modo de una causalidad psico-física. Por otro lado, el intérprete reconoce que no es tarea fácil combinar la perspectiva genética, que señala una continuidad entre pasividad y actividad, y la perspectiva ética, que implica más bien una ruptura. A pesar de que este último capítulo encara la temática de la pasividad desde una perspectiva de análisis diferente a los restantes –a saber, la ética fenomenológica y la teleología monadológica– resulta lamentablemente la sección más corta del libro y deja al lector con la necesidad de un desarrollo más amplio.

Para concluir, La fundamentación pasiva de la experiencia cumple ciertamente su objetivo de exponer el papel de la pasividad de la conciencia según la fenomenología genética husserliana y, por eso, considero que se convertirá muy pronto en una obra de referencia ineludible para quien se abocase al tema. Principalmente debe destacarte el impresionante esfuerzo exegético por parte de su autor en lo que respecta al trabajo con las fuentes y la discusión con la crítica. Durante su lectura, se descubre poco a poco la extensa urdimbre interpretativa sobre la cual la obra fue confeccionada; tal urdimbre cubre de forma total la amplia gama de obras editadas en vida y manuscritos póstumos de Husserl en los cuales trata las distintas síntesis pasivas de la conciencia. El producto final es, sin duda, una interpretación completa, coherente y armoniosa que recorre los estudios de la temporalidad inmanente, pasando por las asociaciones reproductivas y anticipativas, la proto-asociación en el presente viviente, y llega a las profundidades de la subjetividad instintiva del infante humano y el animal desde una perspectiva generativa del progreso teleológico monádico.


Lester Embree (Ed.): The Golden Age of Phenomenology at the New School for Social Research, 1954–1973, Ohio University Press, 2017

The Golden Age of Phenomenology at the New School for Social Research, 1954–1973 Book Cover The Golden Age of Phenomenology at the New School for Social Research, 1954–1973
Series in Continental Thought, № 49
Lester Embree (Ed.)
Ohio University Press / Swallow Press
Hardcover $110.00
568 pages, 1 illus.

Anna Brożek, Jacek Jadacki, Friedrich Stadler (Hrsg.): Kasimir Twardowski. Gesammelte deutsche Werke

Kasimir Twardowski. Gesammelte deutsche Werke Book Cover Kasimir Twardowski. Gesammelte deutsche Werke
Veröffentlichungen des Instituts Wiener Kreis, Band 25
Anna Brożek, Jacek Jadacki, Friedrich Stadler (Hrsg.)
Hardcover 99.99 €
VIII, 309